Treasure Hunt: Golf Carts, Gulls, and Golden Shirts

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

Outside seems to be the common location clue of this sunny morning’s two teams.

“I’ve got the Harbor, but also somewhere new,” Gerald observes in a rather puzzled tone as he checks his clue sheet. “Someplace we’ve never been before.”

“Target keeps coming up for me,” Cheryl puts in. “But since I also received the clue outside, I suspect God may be leading us to somewhere outside the store.”

“The plant nursery, maybe?” Brandy suggests. “That’s one of the clues I received.”

But further prayer leads them both, along with Sharon, to a different plant nursery . . . while Gerald, Abby, and I do take off for the Harbor.

Yet there, though never leaving this oasis of lapping waves and slumbering shoreline, we do end up in a completely new location. And there, in the quiet of the seemingly vacant walkways—bordered by silent strips of sand—we find ourselves bombarded with myriads of clues . . . and myriads of human Treasures.

All with the help of a golf cart and a flock of wheeling gulls.

We spot the golf cart first. “There’s your clue, Julie,” Abby says with a grin, pointing it out. And she responds to my protest, “Whenever I hear golf club, I always think of a golf cart.”

Since the man steering this vehicle is sporting Abby’s clues of a baseball cap and a black shirt, we’re certain he’s our first Treasure. When we hear his cart lumbering behind us, we hop to one side of our walkway and wait for him to catch up. Instead, he turns the thing and disappears into a gap between two buildings.

Oh, well. “This is strange,” Abby muses, checking our ocean of clues against the seemingly-deserted expanse of harbor. “Okay, God, what do You have in mind for us here?”

We pass beds of multicolored flowers, which fulfill the respective clues of Abby and me. Gaze out at the aquamarine horizon, where sailboats bob on the lake’s rippling waves and seagulls—snowy birds—soar overhead in graceful circles. “There are two more of your clues, Julie,” Abby says, pointing them out. (I remember Cheryl also receiving the clue of birds.) And a line of yellow flags snap in the breeze—combining Gerald’s clue of flags with yellow . . . a color both Sharon and Brandy received as well as me.

Then, once again, the golf cart jounces past our view.

And right behind it—in fact, behind all our clues—they all stand together in a laughing, chatting cluster. An entire family of obvious human Treasures.

Three-year-old Aaron, bright as a small sunbeam in his canary-yellow shirt, slumbers within his mommy’s arms.

“Do you have lower-back pain, Takiesha?” Gerald checks his clue sheet after explaining our purpose and returning the family’s many welcoming smiles.

“Well, whaddaya think?” Takiesha rolls her eyes as she points to her small son, then shifts beneath the sleeping child’s weight. Her grinning face sobers. “My back really does hurt a lot of times, though. Pretty bad.”

Gerald speaks words of God’s healing over her. “Are you feeling any better now?”

“Yeah.” She brightens, beams down at little Aaron. “Plus, he feels lighter now!”

Next to her, Dianne speaks up. “Y’all can pray for me, too. I just got diagnosed with breast cancer.”

After we all wrap her up in prayers for her healing, Rochelle on her other side—a lady whose dress is sprinkled with Abby’s clue of polka dots—requests prayer for her daughter Kendra. “She’s goin’ into her senior year of high school.”

And after we bless the school year of this quiet teen in her shouting bright pink T-shirt (still another one of Abby’s clues), Rochelle’s husband Edward speaks up. “My dad’s lookin’ for a new house, an’ my brother Ray just found out he’s got lung cancer.”

More prayers.

“You know,” Dianne shares afterwards, “when it comes to my cancer, I’m trustin’ God for my healing. Found out it’s best to listen to Him and to myself, not to family or doctors who speak only bad things over me.”

Abby nods. “It’s best to trust God, to not let the words of others drag us down.” The instant she speaks, several fountains behind us shoot up whooshing jets of spray. She grins at the sight and chortles. “Hey, is that Holy Water or what?”

Moments later, after we’ve exchanged a wealth of smiles, goodbyes, and calls of “God bless you!” with the faith-filled family of Treasures, she turns to us with astonished eyes. “Hey, guys, you know what? While we were praying, I thought about my clue of a pink hat. And I realized it was one of those caps they use for Breast Cancer Awareness!”

As we stroll along the sand, a young couple heads straight in our direction. Like the golf-cart driver, he’s wearing a baseball cap and a black shirt.

Along with his wife Ashley, John receives with friendly smiles the news that they’re our next Treasures. He points in the direction of Ashley’s abdomen.“You can pray for our unborn child.”

After receiving God’s blessings over their baby, the couple welcomes with equal warmth prayers for their marriage (Gerald’s clue).

“Did you notice they weren’t wearing rings?” Abby asks after we’ve bid them goodbye. While we meander along the shoreline, we continue to cover Ashley and John in prayer.

“Let’s turn this way, toward the Hilton,” Gerald suggests. “I have a feeling about taking that route.”

When we veer to the left, striding back toward the collection of quaint shops that border the walkways, I glance up and see them. A flock of seagulls in perfect V formation, soaring in a snowy arc across the sky. “Look! There are more birds!”

Our joint excitement at the striking sight is magnified when the gulls come circling back . . . wheeling directly over the heads of two employees whose blonde tresses flow over the shoulders of their bright and multicolored shirts. I turn to Abby. “Wasn’t blonde hair one of Cheryl’s clues?”

She nods . . . and at that instant one of the two ladies calls out to us. “Hey, are you guys doing that Geo-cash thing?”

We sprint over at once to explain our purpose . . . and meet Megan and Marie.

“Prayer? That sounds great.” Marie brushes a golden strand of hair away from the electric-blue tank top she wears beneath her pumpkin-hued employee shirt. “I’d like prayer for my teenage daughter Amber.”

“And I’m in a new relationship,” Megan confides.

As we pray for them both, Abby speaks over Megan her specific clue words of peace in decision-making regarding her new relationship.

After bidding the two surprise Treasures goodbye, Abby and Gerald discuss how the popular game Geo-cash might be used in creative ways to draw more Treasures like the two who just asked what we were doing.

And while they’re on the subject of Megan and Marie . . .

“Wow, did you see the way those seagulls kept circling around over their heads?” Abby marvels. “I think God used those birds specifically to highlight them to us.”

Gerald nods and grins. “Now if we can only find that guy on the golf cart. . . .”

The instant he speaks, the golf cart comes chugging straight past us once again.

And once again it zips off from our sight, its driver clearly in a hurry.

But the moment it passes, we see her.

A lady in a bright red shirt . . . with a limp. Both Gerald’s clues.

Nevertheless, it’s the lady strolling beside her to whom he feels drawn. “You folks need prayer for anything?”

The second lady smiles, turns to address the first. In a cascade of rattling Spanish.

With the help of her caring interpreter Carmela, we surround red-shirted Lupe in prayers for her healing.

“That’s why I felt led to Carmela,” Gerald realizes afterwards. “We needed her to translate.” He scans both directions. “Let’s look once more for that guy on the cart. If we see him for the third time, then we’ll trust he’s our Treasure.”

Once again, as he speaks, the golf cart scuttles past. Once more with its driver in an apparent hurry.

But once again, the second he’s gone, we see them.

Two little girls dart across the sand, in a burst of giggles and streaming blonde tresses. The taller one’s wearing a yellow tank top . . . over a fluttering polka-dotted skirt.

“Hey, you know what?” Abby asks after we burst out laughing. “I don’t think that golf-cart guy is meant to be our Treasure after all. I think God’s using him the same way He used the seagulls. He’s an indicator . . . a guide to all the folks we are meant to pray for.”

“I think you’re right,” Gerald concedes. “But as for these little girls, their mom is the one who’s highlighted to me.”

Who is their mom? We watch a stream of ladies lined up to purchase movie tickets . . . then spot her as she steps out from before the ticket window and calls to her girls across the shoreline.

“Well, I’m doing fine myself,” Cindy responds to Gerald’s query. “But I do have a friend who needs prayer. She’s not feeling well at all, but she has no idea what’s causing her illness.”

“You sure there’s nothing you need?” Gerald persists after we’ve prayed for Cindy’s friend.

Cindy smiles, shakes her head.

“You don’t have any lower-back pain?”

The mom’s eyes widen with surprise. “Why, now that you mention it, I do! I’ve been struggling with back pain for a long time.” Following our prayers, she’s glowing with relief and with a joy that matches our own.

When we reach the parking lot, Abby realizes both Gerald’s location clues came true. “We came here to the Harbor . . . and, at the same time, because we chose to detour around by the Hilton, we also found ourselves somewhere new.”

As we head back to our starting place and meet the other team in Pallio’s Pizza Shop, Abby’s bursting with the news of our amazing morning. “Man, you guys won’t believe the clues we found!”

“Really?” Cheryl’s eyes dance with shared excitement. “Us too!”

Once we’re all seated at our table, Cheryl whips out her smartphone, begins to flash for us a series of amazing photos.

The first: a yellow awning, stretched across the plant nursery her team visited . . . right next to the store’s name painted on a sunny yellow sign. “And all the employees in that place were also wearing yellow.”

Next photo: a statue of a bearded saint, surrounded by flapping, winged small creatures. “Remember how Francis was a clue name of both Sharon and Brandy? And Abby received Frank, a nickname for Francis? And, Julie, you and I had birds . . . Well, check this out!” Cheryl grins as she points to the statue’s carved inscription. “St. Francis with the Birds!”

Next photo: a potted yellow plant. “You’ll never guess its name. It was another one of my clues . . . a lollipop plant!”

Then she displays a second statue . . . a frisky-looking little dog, perched by the doorway. “Remember how when I received the clue of dog, I thought it might mean ‘My dogs are barking’ . . . an expression some folks use to mean their feet are hurting? Well, as soon as we entered the store we met Donna . . . an employee who recognized the feet pain clue as one meant for her. Only in more of a spiritual sense, she was reminded of a lady in a past women’s fellowship who was contending for her spiritual foundation. She spoke of these concerns as prayers for her feet.”

With a grin, Cheryl flips to the next photo. “Plus, Donna was standing right by this birdhouse—your clue, Julie—we spotted just inside the front entrance. As she worked on designing a little fairy house, she shared with us she was an empty-nester. While we prayed for her to find God’s comfort in missing her grown-up kids, I also remembered my clue of an egg in a nest. And we noticed after we prayed with her that she was standing beside the lollipop plant.

“In fact,” Cheryl continues, “almost every Treasure we encountered at that place—every one of them a yellow-clad employee—showed up beneath one of our landmark clues. We also found Mike, for example—a short-haired blond man.

“Mike pointed out another man he told us was walking all the way to Dallas,” Brandy puts in. “He said, ‘Take your prayers for me and offer them to him.’ We assured him that as our God is One of abundance, we could pray for both of them.”

“After we left Mike,” Cheryl goes on, “we asked God if we were supposed to try to track down the other man. But Brandy had a strong sense, ‘Someone else has the other man.’ We felt led to explore the nursery area outside.

“And there,” Cheryl adds, once more grinning, “Brandy found Brandy!”

“The other Brandy requested prayer for friends who got caught in the Boulder, Colorado flood,” Brandy shares.

Team two’s final Treasure for the morning was Brandon—highlighted to Cheryl by his baseball cap and his tattoos (another clue of Cheryl’s). “After praying for him that he’d be redeemed from disappointment, we invited him to visit NHV.”

I can’t help thinking that if he shows up on Sunday morning, it will be no more a surprise to us than the many amazing Treasures we found today.

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